Mark

July 14, 2019

Mark

Day 1:We often conceive of God based on our history and understanding, but God is greater than the small box we have Him in. In Mark 2:1-12, the paralyzed man may have expected physical healing. Jesus did something greater and healed his soul too. The pharisees thought that no man could be God, which fit what they had been taught and understood, and yet Jesus was saying and doing things only God could do. What expectations and preconceived notions do we have about God? Allow Jesus’ teaching to challenge you and break you out of these boxes. Accept that some passages in the Bible seem irreconcilable, and yet they are both proclaiming truths! There are other passages that are hard to reconcile with our life experience and understanding.  Read Matthew 22:41-46 and consider an example of a scripture that made no sense at that time, but we now understand. Embrace some mystery in those passages that are hard to understand and allow them to challenge you to trust God more deeply.  

 

Day 2:Sometimes circumstances happen differently than we expect, and God does things differently than we want. The paralyzed man and his friends probably weren’t expecting Jesus to say, “Your sins are forgiven.” Was that disappointing to them? What do we do when we encounter circumstances that don’t fit our vision of God and what we want Him to do? Do we trust him as Father and Creator even then? What is an example of a circumstance that has happened in your life that is not what you wanted or expected? Can you imagine what God might want you to have or learn from this circumstance? Read Romans 8:28-39 and consider that God is maturing us to be like Christ. Can you, will you trust that God knows what He is doing no matter what and his way is better?

 

Day 3:That Jesus saw forgiveness as the foremost need of a paralyzed man is amazing! Forgiveness is a powerful thing in our lives; it is one of our deepest needs. I have learned that in addiction treatment circles it has been said that the opposite of addiction is connection. That is, we have a deep need for connection and when appropriate connections are not formed in our lives we easily seek connection in ways leading to addictions. And yet when sin happens, what can restore connection except forgiveness? Doesn’t our Creator, our Father say that our deepest need is a restored relationship with Him, a need that is met by the death and resurrection of Jesus? Jesus’ death pays the penalty for the forgiveness of our sins and His resurrection proves that everything is ok again. The relationship is restored to all who would trust him.  Meditate on Romans 4:24-5:2 and 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 and thank God for restoring your connection to him through Christ.

 

Day 4:Believing that I am forgiven by God can be a major challenge. I can accept on an intellectual level that I am forgiven, but actually believing that in the deepest recesses of my heart where I daily think and feel is not so easy. It is hardest when I sin. Can I believe then that I am forgiven? Am I even worthy of that? It is not about us being worthy of forgiveness, but about the work of Jesus God’s son to give us forgiveness. He is worthy, that is more than enough. So often in my “box” view of God I feel like God can’t forgive me because of ______, but if I can live better, then maybe I will be forgiven. Or I simply don’t feel forgiven, so I live as if I am not. He doesn’t forgive us on the basis what we have done. God forgives us on the basis of whatHehas done; Jesus’ death and resurrection in our place. Read Colossians 1:12-23, 2:13-14, Titus 3:3-9, and Psalm 103. As you read the passages above, view the greatness of God who has forgiven our sins. Accept what he says, trust Him in faith. 

 

Day 5:God knows our deepest needs, even when things don’t happen like we want or expect. The paralyzed man wasn’t the only person who faced unmet expectations of God. Mary and Martha thought Jesus should come and heal Lazarus, but Jesus waited, Lazarus died (John 11:3-6, 21). The Israelites thought God had sent Moses to deliver them, but when Moses spoke to Pharaoh, things got worse (Exodus 4:29-5:9, 5:19-23). The lives of Joseph, David - the list could go on. In the midst of seemingly bad circumstances when we still don’t see the what we perceive as a good outcome - when our God who is in charge, is loving, and knows what we need better than we do is meeting our deepest needs in ways that we don’t want or expect - what do we do with that? Can we trust? Can we let God define what is good and what is best? Can we remember what David keeps telling himself in a bad situation? “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” (Psalm 42:5) Read Psalm 42 and tell yourself, “I will yet praise Him.”

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July 7, 2019

Mark

Day 1: A few weeks ago, the message focused on prayer and spending time with God. Have you been able to incorporate more prayer into your daily devotional time? Throughout this week’s study, we will incorporate a call to prayer to help focus our actions. In Sunday’s message, we continued our journey through the Gospel of Mark. Cory taught on Mark 2:1-12. As you reread these passages, what stands out to you? Are you moved by the act of support provided by the men bearing the stretcher? When you find yourself in a position to help someone in need, how do you respond? Pray over your response. Ask God to speak to you, “Dear God, What help can I give? What difference can I make? If I tend to not respond, why? Lead me to an open heart to be the stretcher bearer in someone else’s life. Amen.” 

 

Day 2:  The paralyzed man and the men assisting him recognized the authority and power of Jesus. They overcame great obstacles and removed a roof to lower the man to Jesus. Jesus saw the faith in the bearers and the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” (Verse 5) In our daily lives, do we forget to recognize the power of Jesus over us, both physical and spiritual? “But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” (Verse 10) What a formidable gift Jesus has over our life! He removes our sin. He lifts our spirit. He can help us see again, both physically and spiritually.  Have you fully submitted to this power? Pray: “Dear God, I walk through this world directing my own way, forcing my square pegs into round holes, pushing my will into life. Help me to give that control over to you. I will let go of my own desires and recognize your will, your power, and your great gifts in this world. Amen.” 

 

Day 3:  Jesus saw the faith of the men who worked to bring in the paralyzed man. Jesus saw the faith of the paralyzed man who was willing to struggle to get to Jesus. Faith is seen through our actions. Read James 2:14-17“In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (verse 17) The devotional team met this week, we pondered, “Who were these men? Did they know this paralyzed man, or were they acting out of selflessness to a stranger?” Although we will never know, we can try to put ourselves in the shoes of these men. Just as we discussed on day 1, are we willing to be the stretcher bearer for someone in need? Do we put our faith into action when called upon? “Dear God, we know faith requires not just thoughts but action. When we are faced with a task guide us, push us, implore us to understand that call.  Moreover, know that I will hear your call and I will act as a servant to others in faith. Amen.” 

  

Day 4:  Faith requires courage. The scripture tells us people gathered “in such large numbers, there was no room left… and he preached the word to them.” (verse 2) Transporting the paralyzed man to Jesus required great courage for the stretcher bearers and the paralyzed man. The crowd could’ve prevented them from reaching Jesus. Any of them could’ve been hurt. The act of climbing to the roof was dangerous, but everyone showed great courage in their faith. (1 Corinthians 16:13, Hebrews 13:5-6, Deuteronomy 31:6) Pray: Dear God: Give me courage when I am weak. Let me live Isaiah 40:31. I will soar on wings like eagles; I will run and not grow weary, I will walk and not be faint. I will be strong in my faith as I walk with you. Amen.” 

 

Day 5: The Pharisees were present on this day (verse 6). The “teachers of the law” allowed their faulty reasoning to push Jesus away. What a great opportunity they missed! But we are so blessed to grow closer to Jesus as we get to know/understand His actions and His heart. Which path will we choose – Pharisee or believer? Pray: “Dear God, when times are challenging, I don’t want to push you away or doubt you like a modern-day Pharisee. I want to draw closer to you. I want to recognize your true power. I will show faith through actions, and I will demonstrate courage in my faith. Thank you for all your blessings. Amen.” 

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June 30, 2019

Mark

Leper

Day 1: Read Mark 1:40-42. Jesus was on a mission to declare that the Kingdom of God was at hand. He preached and spread this good news so that people could repent and believe. However, Jesus did not just preach with words; He proved His authority with miracles. He cast out demons and healed the sick. One day, a man came to Jesus who was suffering from leprosy. He was sick with a terrible disease that would likely cause horrific suffering and even death. Furthermore, he was probably contagious, so everyone was afraid of him. People likely wondered why this man had been cursed by God. Had he or his parents committed some terrible sin that had incurred God’s wrath? This leper was isolated from society and alone with no hope. Yet, he had hope. There were stories that there was a man named Jesus who could do incredible things. He could perform miracles and heal the sick. So, the leper stepped out in faith, saying to Jesus, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Imagine yourself in the leper’s place feeling alone and overwhelmed. Did you or do you feel like Jesus can be trusted with your situation? Talk to God about it.  

 

Day 2: Read Mark 1:40-42. When confronted by the leper, Jesus was deeply and emotionally moved. Most English translations translate verse forty-one to say that Jesus was, “moved with compassion” or pity. However, others translate the text as, “Jesus was indignant.” While there is some debate over the meaning of this passage, one thing is clear: Jesus did not heal this man solely to prove His authority. This was not some cold calculated act that only served Jesus’ divine plan. Instead, here in this passage, we see a deeply human Jesus. Jesus is not some aloof deity with no time for us mere mortals. Instead, this is a real man with real human emotions dealing with real life. Are you able to believe that Jesus is God? Does He have the power and authority to do the impossible in your life? Is there also room in your faith to believe that Jesus is truly human, and that He has intimately experienced the frailty, stench, and emotions of real human life? As was said on Sunday, can you trust in the goodness of Jesus?  

 

Day 3: Read Mark 1:38-45. Jesus’ plan was to enter villages and preach in their synagogues. It seems quite likely that this is the reason that Jesus sternly warned the leper not to tell anyone that Jesus had healed him. Jesus didn’t want to draw too much attention too quickly. He didn’t want the crowds to get out of control before He had the opportunity to preach His message. Jesus knew what the consequence would be for healing the leper. In fact, it would have served His plan better to refuse to heal this man altogether. Yet, Jesus said, “I am willing.” Jesus’ compassion for the leper outweighed His own desires. The cool part is, this is the same Jesus we gather for in order to worship, pray to and learn about. Jesus still has compassion for us today. Where have you seen compassion in your life? What is the most compassion God shown you?  

 

Day 4: Read Matthew 8:1-4 & Luke 5:12-15. Being a Christian or Christ-follower means that we seek to know and become more like Jesus. But what does that actually look like for us day to day? Are we to walk around casting out demons and healing the sick? I suppose that it is still possible through the power of the Holy Spirit, and yet, I believe that we can still be Christ-like if we don’t manifest miracles like that. Are there sick people around you? Do we know anyone who is without hope? When you think about the people that Jesus cared about, does it make you think of anyone in particular? When Jesus saw these people, His emotions were stirred, He was willing, and He took action. Take some time to reflect on this. Don’t be content to just believe that we Jesus is full of compassion. Ask God to show you how to express compassion to someone in your life today.   

 

Day 5: Read Mark 1:14-45. Sometimes when I read about miracles in the Bible, it can seem to good to be true. I can almost catch myself reading the gospels like they are a fairy tale with made up stories that are designed to teach some moral truth or principle. Honestly, it’s not just the miracles that are hard to believe. God’s compassion, love, and endless mercy are difficult to process as well. But what if these stories really happened?  What if the world the Bible takes place in is actually still the world we live in? What if the Kingdom of God has actually come near? Wouldn’t that change how we live? Wouldn’t that mean that our own happiness and prosperity isn’t the goal to life? For Christ-followers, Jesus’ Kingdom mission now becomes our mission. How does that change your outlook on the day? 

 

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June 23, 2019

Mark

It’s Time To Get Up!

Day 1: Read Mark 1:29-31. Take notice of the characteristics of discipleship shown by Simon, Andrew, James and John. They were not only with Jesus, but their time with Him produced dependence upon Him – such that they immediately looked to Him to help Simon’s mother-in-law, who was ill. Where do you immediately turn when you have a need? Is your time with Jesus just on Sunday? Do you leave Him at church and move on? Or do you relate to Him in your everyday life? Ask God to open your eyes this week to opportunities to invite Jesus into the everyday details of life this week.  

 

Day 2: Read Mark 1:32-35. Do you ever find yourself starting the day saying, “I have so much on my plate I don’t know where to start?” It’s during these times that we need to be reminded that, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” (Isaiah 40:31.) Jesus modeled waiting upon His Father. Despite busyness and fatigue due to days filled with ministry, he got up while it was still dark in order to go pray. To Jesus, prayer was His first work and not His last attempt. Begin to think about practical steps you can take to make prayer the priority of each day. Which of these steps will you take today? What would it look like to take that step? What do you need or who do you need to help you take this step?  

 

Day 3: As we think about the priority of prayer each day, if we follow Jesus’ example, we need to not only have the discipline to get up, but we need a place to go. Jesus got away to a secluded place where the sounds and busyness were gone and He was alone. What place have you designated for meeting with God? For some people it’s outdoors, maybe on a patio or deck. Others have a favorite room they look forward to meeting God in as they open His Word, sit in silence, or listen. Jesus desired to hear the voice of God and so He placed Himself in an environment that helped free Him from distractions. Find your place this week. Make a place and a time that begins to become your and God’s meeting place.  

 

Day 4: Read Mark 1:36-37. The demands of life will always be a threat to our time with God. We can allow the needs of children or other relatives, work and even ministry to hinder our prayers and time with God. Yet, even with everyone looking for Him, Jesus did not let others’ demands upon Him keep Him from time with the Father. Is your priority to know God? Imagine trying to deepen a relationship with a spouse or other family member without ever talking? It can’t happen. So, what boundaries could you set this week to protect your time with God? Is there an activity you might need to interrupt to make room for prayer? What would it be like to let that activity go? What do you imagine would happen? Would you be willing this week to try it and see if what you imagine is what actually happens?   

 

Day 5: Read Mark 1:38-39 Notice Jesus’ response to His disciples when they said, “Everyone is looking for You”. His answer reflected a focus on His purpose: to preach the gospel. Prayer influenced the movement of His day and the trajectory of His life, because He came to do the Father’s will. God’s will for us is to look like Jesus. (Rom. 8:29; 2 Cor. 3:18) We can’t be transformed into the likeness of Christ apart from the Holy Spirit working in our lives and through time in God’s Word and prayer. What can you do to incorporate God’s Word into your prayer time? Perhaps it’s reflecting on passages from the sermon or small group study for the week. Maybe it’s reciting memorized verses and asking God to help you apply them to life. Regardless, ask God to speak to you clearly through His Word as you pray this week.  

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June 16, 2019

Mark

Jesus is Stronger!

Day 1:Identify a specific external or internal struggle you are facing. Jesus is stronger. He is the authority over everything in life. He made the world. When he was on earth, his authority showed in what he taught and his power over evil spirits, the weather, health issues, even death. In the first few verses of Mark 1:14-20we see that Jesus’ teachings had a different authority than the words of human teachers. Jesus isthe authority; he isthe expert. Can you base your life on what He says? It is important that we understand His words well; we can stake our lives on them. What do you trust most in your life? Is it God’s Word? Today, find what words of Jesus–what verses in the Bible– apply to the specific area of life you identified as a struggle. Pray. See what verses God brings to mind. Search the scriptures for verses that speak to that struggle. Look online for trusted Christian sources that apply God’s Word to your situation.  Ask a friend or spiritual leader for ideas of verses that are relevant. Make a list of several verses that apply to your struggle. 

 

Day 2:Find a way to regularly remember the verses you identified as relevant to your situation. Jesus is alive and his words have power. “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). Put God’s Word before you. Let it do its work. Make a reminder on your phone that shows you the verse when you arrive at a certain location or at a key time of day. Write the verses out and tape them where you can remember and meditate on them throughout the day. Set aside time alone during each day to think about those verses, memorize them, and pray about what they mean. 

 

Day 3:Let Jesus’ words penetrate deeply to expose your heart motives. Accept what the Bible says about you, your situation, as true. Open yourself to the Holy Spirit revealing truth to you through God’s Word. Look at your behavior and heart attitudes in the area you are struggling and compare them to what God’s Word says is true. Do your actions and beliefs line up? Is there a heart issue at the root of your struggle? Honestly journal about what God’s Word says about your situation. Do you need to think about yourself in a different way according to God’s Word? Do you need to think differently about others in your life? About your circumstances? About God? Are there changes needed in your life or heart? Pray about what is at the root of heart issues in your life. We are becoming someone who naturally thinks, feels, and lives like Jesus. Imagine what it would look like if you naturally thought, felt like, and lived like Jesus in your situation. Pray for change at the heart level, that your heart would be like Jesus. Have confidence in Him. Lean on His words when you are weak. Apply them to your situation.

 

Day 4:Jesus has power to act; ask him. He is alive and well. Jesus has the ability to make a difference. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in you. Read Ephesians 1:19-23.Jesus repeatedly said (John 13:13-14, John 15:7, 15:16, John 16:23-24) to ask Him and He will do whatever we ask in His name (that is, ask him for what he would want). We are invited to ask! We get a hint at the importance of prayer in Matthew 17:14-21when the disciples failed to cast out a demon and asked Jesus what went wrong. He said that this kind only comes out by prayer and fasting. Regarding the area in your life that you want to see Jesus work; pray, fast. Make your prayer requests specific, specific to what He would want according to His Word in this situation. Write down your requests to remember them and to have a place to record the answers! Meditate on the powerful name of Jesus as you listen to the song What a Beautiful Nameby Hillsong. Come to God in prayer and fasting for the change you believe Jesus would want. 

 

Day 5:We all need other believers in our life who can come alongside us, pray with us and encourage us. We need that community. Find believers who are safe and share the area of life you are needing Jesus’ strength. Tell them what is happening, what your prayer requests are, and what verses from God’s Word you are remembering. If you feel weak and a failure, share that. If Jesus does something that shows he is stronger than your struggle, share that. We all will benefit from seeing and celebrating Jesus’ power in our lives. 

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June 9, 2019

Mark

Be Filled

Monday:Read Mark 1:7-8 & John 3:26-30.John the Baptist, in Mark 1:7-8, understands he is not the main character in this story. John has grasped the idea, “He must become greater; I must become less.” Relinquishing control is a critical step in beginning a journey of allowing the Spirit to lead toward a path of growth. This is an acceptance that as the Spirit comes in, the person gives up control. This is not the same as two partners coming together with 50-50 control but of one owner selling to a new, more deserving owner and steadily following their lead. Take time to reflect to see where your heart is with this. Do you find yourself following, or continuing to negotiate for control?

Tuesday:Read Mark 1:8.John is very clear about what he and Jesus are both offering in this verse. The Old Testament promises a time where God will live with His people. John is saying the time for this has finally come. He uses the symbolism of being baptized to illustrate this good news. His baptisms in water represent repentance, a change of mind, by going into the water as their old self and coming out of the water as someone on a journey of following. He draws a distinction between this baptism in water and being baptized in the Spirit. Jesus’ baptism in the Holy Spirit is not a visual representation of anything, but instead a fulfillment of God’s promise that one day He will live amongst his people. 

Wednesday:The Gospel of Mark begins, not ends, with John speaking of God’s Spirit in us. Sometimes we talk or think of the goal of the Gospels as leading us to accept Jesus as Savior. Surely that is part of the Gospels, it’s just not the whole story. Mark has placed the significance of the Holy Spirit in our lives at the beginning because the Holy Spirit’s indwelling is the beginning of knowing and becoming like Christ. Our journey with God does not become complete once the Spirit enters into us, but instead it begins as the spirit that is inside of us begins to work His way through us. Jesus’ life is depicted by four different books to give us a living example of what a Spirit filled life looks like. As followers of Jesus, we have the power of the Holy Spirit in us. But like any relationship, our trusting and learning to lean on and hear the Spirit’s guidance and care for us takes intentional time to develop. There are steps to discover and take. It is not enough to just be given the ingredients to bake a cake, we must actually put the ingredients together and follow through in baking the cake. What is a step for you in learning to listen to and relate with the Spirit in your life? 

Thursday:To be transformed in how we think, feel, and act is the sovereign work of God through His spirit, requiring constant focus and attention on our part. Jesus believed whole-heartedly that change was not only possible, but that it was necessary for us to live the kind of lives available to us. It does not have to wait. The idea that we need the Spirit in us to be saved and one day go to heaven would be foreign to Jesus and diminish not only His life and teaching, but our lives as well. Jesus wants more from us and for us in this life. How are you actively learning to listen to the Spirit, to know Jesus and to bring His teaching to life in your life? Do you see the fruit of His Spirit growing in you? Do you see peace, patience, kindness, compassion, love growing in you and how you think of and relate with others? 

Friday:Having God with us through His Spirit makes real transformation possible. The Spirit leads us to know Jesus, and transforms us to become more like Him. But what does that really look like? It looks like taking steps. Just as Day 3 mentions, the Spirit entering us is just the beginning of who we can become. What steps might the Spirit be leading you to explore and take? Is it knowing Jesus more deeply, what He said, how He related with people, what He seemed to care about, how He lived, to know Him relationally? Is this a step of beginning daily prayer and studying? Beginning to see people through a lens of loving and serving them? Listen to what the Spirit might be trying to help you see in you, and a step He is leading you to take. Do you have community that encourages and holds you all accountable to living out His Kingdom ways?

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June 2, 2019

Mark

The Value of Repentance

Day 1. Repentance. Both John the Baptist and Jesus began their ministries with a similar call, a call to repent. Repentance literally means to change our mind or to change our thinking. Change, rethink, choose a different path, or go another way. How do you view repentance? Do any of these words come to your mind: weakness, stubbornness, humility, anger, hopelessness, hopefulness? Take a few minutes to contemplate your own working definition of repentance. Read Mark 1:4-5, 14-15. How would Jesus describe repentance? Pray and ask the Father to show you anything that does not lead to life, is not consistent with being a citizen of His Kingdom. 

  

Day 2. Read Matthew 5:4-6 Do you have a heart that can mourn your own thoughts or actions from time to time? Do you hunger for things to be “right”, that is, in harmony with God’s Kingdom (or how God intends things to be here on earth)? Are you longing for God to have His way, with and in you, and in your areas of influence? Recall the message on Sunday. Is there something in your thinking, attitude, behavior that helps hold up sin and brokenness in you or your area of influence? Did the Holy Spirit bring something to your mind? What would it look like to repent, to change your thinking, in your mind and to trust God to provide a different way?   

 

Day 3Read Mark 1:4-5, 14-15 again. Repentance is a change of mind or rethinking what or how we have been living. Confession is critical. Why is confession so important? Why does it matter? It’s the only way to receive forgiveness and restoration of relationship. I can forgive someone, but if they reject it or ignore it, there is no reconciliation of the relationship. But God loves us and wants relationship. While it’s true I will benefit from forgiving them, without them accepting my love and forgiveness, there is no reconciliation. Repentance is our ongoing “yes” to God’s free gift of grace and forgiveness. Is there something you need to confess to God or to another to move toward restoring relationship?  

 

Day 4Read 2 Corinthians 7:8-10 Has anyone ever called you out or had a hard conversation about an attitude or behavior of yours? How did that initially feel? What did you have to fight through to actually repent? Self-defense, blame of others or circumstances, rationalizations–what eventually helped move you to repentance? A stern attitude on their part, a threat of punishment, their care, concern, or even love they have for you? In the book of Romans, Paul reminds us that it is God’s kindness and goodness that leads us to repentance. Repentance is owning our stuff and sin not to belittle, but to offer real life and freedom. The gospel writer, Luke, in his day,called it times of refreshment. Could you use some refreshment? Is there something you need to either let go of or maybe it’s to own and accept?  

 

Day 5. Have you ever wanted to hide from God? As silly as that sounds, we all have some ways of hiding. We can avoid God like we would someone at the grocery store by going down another aisle. We can cease to pray or skip church or small group, but that won’t get us what we want or need. It just leaves us in our sin and stuff, and usually deepens it. Picture a parent, friend, co-worker, or spouse who has acted badly. Once you move past wanting to angrily straighten them out, don’t you want them to understand how their actionshurt you and others? How much more so does your Father in heaven want you to understand how you have acted and how it has hurt your relationship with Him? Are you willing to trust the goodness of God, His goodness to forgive you, His goodness to restore what was lost and begin healing that which is inside of you? What would it be like to stop hiding, to pray, and to repent? Read Psalm 145:8-21 and enter into a conversation with God.  

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May 26, 2019

Mark

Come. See. Follow.

Day 1: Read Mark 1: 1-13.  Cory walked through these verses in the preceding weeks of this series. We learned about the writer of Mark, his audience, and his perspective for writing. We’ve also examined the development of John the Baptist, and his role in proclaiming the coming of the Messiah. We revisited the baptism of Jesus – as the Spirit descended, God’s voice said, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Mark 1:11. In Mark, Jesus’ public teaching is beginning to unfold. When you think about the first 13 verses of this chapter, what touches you? John the Baptists’ selfless view of Jesus? The voice of God declaring Jesus His son? Have you felt the love of God, your heavenly father, has for you?  

 

Day 2:  This week Pastor Jack taught on Mark 1:14-20. Jesus proclaims, “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news.” (verse 15) Jesus also calls to his first disciples— Simon, Andrew, James and John, “Come, follow Me,” (verse 17). The call to follow in Mark 1 is a call for these men to leave their old lives behind and become His full-time disciples, a perfect picture of repentance. However, before He asked for this kind of commitment (the same commitment He asks of us), He first called them to get to know Him. One reason many don’t follow Jesus wholeheartedly is because they haven’t seen Jesus for who He is. Read John 1:39. How can we get to know Jesus? What are some of the ways that have helped deepen your relationship with Jesus? How can we “Come and see?” 

 

Day 3: One way we can get to know Jesus is to spend time with Him. Wouldn’t it have been glorious to sit at the feet of Jesus in the flesh? I can’t imagine being in the presence of His human form as the disciples did. However, we can spend time with Him. What does spending time with God do in us and for us? Ask Him to reveal himself to you. It’s one thing to know truths about God and it’s another thing to “see His glory” (Exodus 33:18). Study His revelation of Himself in His word. What do this week’s verses reveal about who and how Jesus is?  

 

Day 4:  What is God calling us to do? He calls us to a relationship and to discipleship. Jesus calls us to follow— first and foremost in friendship. But this is not a casual friendship without any expectation or commitment. Couples have a choice after their marriage ceremony, continue to grow and deepen their relationship or stop connecting. In a similar respect, we are saved, but where does our relationship with Christ go from there? Are we living our lives with Him? Do we live for Him yet not with Him? Do we talk about Him more than to Him? How can we get to a place where we treasure Christ so much that we’re truly following?  

 

Day 5: : The second call is to discipleship. What is discipleship? its being His student or apprentice – not just knowing who He is or what He says, but becoming like Him and doing what He does. It’s following Christ - not only with companionship but with obedience and surrender. Matthew 16:24, Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.’ To follow Jesus as our King is to choose His will over our own.  This choice to follow Him, live like Him, and yield to His ways is a choice we make every day, hour by hour.  Looking at your own life, where have you surrendered and truly become a disciple of Christ?  Where do you see a potential next step – perhaps where you push your own will, and not His?  

 

Day 6: What is our response to His call?  

Will you “Come and see”? Not just once but always? (Psalm 27:4

Will you “Come and follow”? It’s a decision you make daily. 

Will you leave it all to follow Him? What does it mean for you to leave all and follow Him? Jesus says we should count the cost.  

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May 19, 2019

Mark

Day 1: Read Mark 1: 1-15.What’s going on here, voices from heaven, spirit birds, and talking with the devil in the desert. Its easy to read a passage like this and think, “I know this story,” and miss how reality altering this is. In the midst of everyone’s mundane lives, something is happening that will change everything. Heaven breaks through and the impossible starts becoming reality. People were doing their normal everyday life, and this John the Baptist guy shows up proclaiming that something incredible was about to happen. Get ready! Repent, confess your sins and seek forgiveness. Someone is coming who will cleanse you with the Holy Spirit Himself. The Son of God has arrived as one of us, and His Kingdom reign is happening now. Take some time to reflect. What does this story have to do with your life here and now, how you live and relate with God and others? Is it true? and if it is, what does it mean for us?

Day 2: Read Mark 1:9-12.Jesus was baptized by John and lead into the wilderness for forty days. A Jewish person of that day would have thought of the Exodus, God’s delivering Israel from Egyptian slavery. Just as Moses lead Israel through the waters of the Red Sea to wander in the wilderness for forty years, Jesus passes through the waters of baptism and is lead into the wilderness for forty days. Something was happening here. God’s Kingdom plan of rescue and deliverance was continuing. All of history was leading up to this moment when God’s own Son would deliver us from the bondage of sin and death and usher in His Kingdom way of living and relating. Jesus was baptized and tested in the wilderness to prepare Him. Up until now, Jesus had lived a quiet life as a carpenter’s son, but now something new was beginning. What if He stopped there, treated it as a point of arrival and was satisfied? What if Jesus thought, “that was cool, and went back to his normal life?” What would we have missed out on? What would all of history missed out on? Is there “an arrival mentality” at risk of showing up in your life of following Jesus? Where are you at risk of resting in the relationship you have with Christ? Is there no next step? 

Day 3: Read Mark 1:9-15.We just celebrated the Easter season. Many around the world practice Lent leading up to Easter. Traditionally, Lent is a forty-day season reflecting the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness. Lent is designed to test us, sharpen us, and prepare our hearts for celebrating Resurrection. Yet, we can get through the Easter season and think to our selves, “that was cool, back to life as normal.” What if the practice of Lent and Easter itself was intended to shape how we live everyday? What if we haven’t arrived yet? What if Easter just marks the beginning? Take out a piece of paper, and make a list. What new things might God be calling you to? What work has He been preparing? What difficult thing might you be avoiding? 

Day 4: Read Mark 1:12-19. It is springtime. The birds are back and flowers are blooming. Spring is a season of new life. It’s also a season of milestones and transitions. Kids graduate and go off to college or seek their first job. They leave their parent’s homes, get married, move to new cities, meet new people, and begin their adult lives. It can be a bitter-sweet time. Saying goodbye to old friends or boxing up your kid’s belongings to take them to college can be difficult. It can also be easy for us to think, “We made it. No more testing. No more homework. No more driving kids to...” Yet, there is danger in thinking we have arrived. It can lead us to a passivity that lulls us into inaction. What milestones are you going through in this season? Each is an opportunity to deepen your relationship with God or to drift from Him. As you move forward to what’s next, commit to following Jesus? Use the milestones that lay ahead to discover new ways to worship, relate with others, and to serve. 

Day 5: Read Mark 1:19. James and John left everything to follow Jesus. At this moment, their lives changed forever. Ever wonder how Zebedee felt. They were his boys, his workers, maybe his future. No more daily breakfasts or fishing together. This was better for his kids. Maybe he knew that. However, he must have mourned at what he had lost. Transitions can be hard. A year ago my Father-n-law dies. My Mother-n-law is a wonderful Godly woman, but I know she struggles to understand how she could possibly move forward now that her life has changed so drastically. However, there is good news. To my mother-in-law, to Zebedee, to the empty nesters that say good bye to their children, to the young man or woman setting off to begin their new life, Jesus says, “Follow Me.” We’re not alone. Jesus, the Son of God, calls us to relationship with Himself. He says, “Come live your life with Me.” What is your next step in living your life “with” Jesus? 

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May 12, 2019

Mark

Mother’s Day

Day 1: Mark 1:11, And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”  God’s voice beamed down from heaven just as Jesus was being baptized by John in the Jordan River. Jesus had yet to perform any miracles, but still the Father said He was pleased with his Son. Do you believe the same principle applies to you? Is God pleased with you? God doesn’t love you less when you go astray, and he doesn’t love you more when you’re “good.” Read Ephesians 2:10 and Zephaniah 3:17 and remind yourself of how God sees you today. If He sees you this way, how does he see your co-worker, family member, classmate, etc.?  

 

Day 2: God made you with a purpose. In all honesty, do you believe that you are a unique, hand-crafted God design? We tend to look at others – see their strengths and characteristics, and wish we were more like them. Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Have you experienced that thief? God has already put his stamp of approval on you – your height, your freckles, your talents, your laugh, everything. Read these passages. What is God saying to you about the specialness that is you? How does this change how you view your schedule or plans for today? Read Psalm 139:13-14, Isaiah 64:8, Jeremiah 1:4-8, Matthew 10:29-31. 

 

Day 3: This past Sunday was Mother’s Day, and next month we celebrate Father’s Day. Parents of younger children, let’s continue to raise successful, achieving children. But in the same token, let’s not compare our children to other’s children wishing for them to be smarter, faster, wiser when they are just as God made them. And for those of you who are parents of adult children, what does it look like to love and to show respect to your kids? Likewise, children, God made your mom and dad for a purpose. Honor them and thank them. Pray for them. Show grace and understanding. Whether parents or children, or both, reflect on the last time you’ve lost patience and lacked grace. Read John 13:33-34 and practice it in your family relationships.  

 

Day 4:  Where is your identity coming from? To what am I looking to reaffirm that I am ok, or even who I am? That is an easily glossed over, deep question. When I get a new car is there something in me that feels better when I sit at a stoplight? Does my significance go up when I get a promotion or raise at work?  What is happening in me at a heart level when I see a specific attitude or behavior that needs to be transformed by God? Read Matthew 6:19-24. Who or what is your master outside of God? What comes into your mind? Now consider this quote from Lysa TerKeurst, “Jesus doesn’t participate in the rat race. He’s into the slower rhythms of life, like abiding, delighting, and dwelling—all words that require us to trust Him with our place and our pace. Words used to describe us being with Him.” (Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely). Notice where you get your identity today. How can you affirm yourself and in others? 

 

Day 5: Jesus teaches us to hold admiration for others. Do you see others who you hold in high regard? Admire them, learn from them, celebrate them, but you be you! Admire, love and celebrate all that you are in God’s eyes. Romans 8, “Nothing can separate you from God.” When it comes to God delighting over you, you didn’t earn it, you just are. Why? Because you are His son or daughter. He cannot love you more – and he will never love you less. He loves you and needs you to be you, in keeping with how He made you and why you are here. Pray today for a greater sense of self and acknowledge who you are in God’s eyes. Embrace love and acceptance knowing your heavenly Father is always shining favor on your life.  

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May 5, 2019

Mark

THINKING BACKWARDS

Day 1. Mark 1: 2-3: ‘It is written in Isaiah the prophet: ‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way’ – a voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him’. Over 500 years before Jesus would show up, the Prophet Isaiah is telling us that a King is coming. He’s telling us how different or unexpected the One who is coming is and will be, how everything we know or thought we knew will be changing. That His kingdom’s ways will be so unexpected, someone will be needed to come before him to help us take it all in. Are you still able to be surprised by Jesus and His Kingdom’s ways? What has surprised you recently about Jesus and living as a Christ-follower?   

 

Day 2. Mark 1:2 ‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way’. This unusual figure, John, begins to proclaim a new King is coming, and the people should take notice and prepare themselves for His reign – for this new reality. In the US we elect a president in November, and they take office toward the end of January. We have real-time coverage of the election and the administrations transition into office. At the time this was written, when a new King took the throne, a proclamation would be made throughout the Kingdom. It was news as well as a call to the people to prepare themselves to live under the new King’s reign. This is the call of John the Baptist, to repent, to prepare for the new reality that is coming. What goes into your preparation to live in Jesus’ Kingdom’s ways each day? What would or could that look like? Take 5-10 minutes and pray. Ask God to reveal areas in your life where you need a change. Is there someone you are in conflict with, an attitude you are holding, a sin you are hiding? Let John’s words sink into your heart. Prepare the way for the Lord!  

  

Day 3. John appears to lead one of the more selfless lives in all of scripture, and lived well, lived with purpose, significance, and meaning. John discovered ways to switch his loyalties and focus from himself to Jesus. Can you see or identify areas or patterns in your life where this is an ongoing struggle for you? What do you recall from your prayer time yesterday? Continue to pray for God to show you an area of your life where your loyalties and focus are still tied to holding on to your life and ways and for Him to point you to a step or discipline that might be of help. Who in your life could honestly and lovingly help you to see areas of selfishness? When can you talk with them next?  

 

Day 4. In the early 2000’s a book came out titled “Leading from the Second Chair”. It was a book for the majority of us who are not the primary leader in the organization we serve, team we are on, or the purpose we are pursuing. John is the embodiment of a second chair leader. A clear leader, who works toward a purpose and vision, who understands he is not the primary person, but works and serves both his leader and his leader’s purpose. John was a servant. When we talk about the serve commitment around here, Johns posture and attitude is a great example to us. He knew he had a significant role to play, a contribution to make, but it didn’t become about him, it was about helping others know Jesus and calling them to prepare to live in Jesus’ Kingdom’s ways. Describe what it means “it’s all about me.” When do you recognize that mentality in your own life?  

 

Day 5. How does serving play out in your life? Can you point to regular examples in the different parts of your day and week where you focused on helping someone else? Pull out a sheet a paper or write in your journal examples where you are regularly making it about others rather than yourself. Are these actions bringing you closer to God meaning do you feel more alive? Or is this serving draining or frustrating? Why is that so?  

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April 28, 2019

Mark

Intro to Mark

Day 1: Mark starts his gospel with this, Mark 1:1 "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God." Mark is telling his readers that this is the start of the good news! It began with the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, that John the Baptist would come with a message of repentance to prepare the way for Messiah. What makes this news good? It was the news that the Son of God was coming into the world to begin to bring His Kingdom and carry our sins. Mark's opening starts with the proclamation of the Messiah's arrival and connects it to the unfolding story or God. What practical steps can you take this week to grow your anticipation of what God may desire for you as we walk through Mark’s gospel as a church? Simply start by reading Mark’s Gospel this week, you can do it! Read it as if you were reading it for the first time. Pray for God to show you who Jesus is, what He said, how he related with people, and what he seemed to care about so that you might know Him, that you might bring His teaching into your life, that you would discover a step that God would use to lead you to become more like Jesus. 

   

Day 2: Read Ephesians 3:6. Paul reminds us of the scandal of the gospel, that it is for everyone, both Jews and Gentiles. Surely this is part of “the good news” Mark begins with. Most agree, Mark was writing to Gentile followers in Rome who were experiencing persecution. Their inclusion in the Gospel, the good news they had received, was not one of personal comfort or acquired knowledge, it was a call to a different way of thinking and living. One that often put them at odds with the Empire. The call to follow Jesus was a call that included suffering, and in that, the hope of transformation as well. (Romans 8:18) How do you receive suffering? No healthy person seeks it, but over and over again in scripture we see people changed and deepened in their relationship with Christ by it. Am I prone to focus hope on escaping suffering, denying it, or to be with God in it and to allow it to do its transformational work in my life?  

 

Day 3: Read 2 Timothy 4:11. Mark was a part of the early church. The Book of Acts tells us a church met in his mother's house. Mark later accompanied Paul and Barnabas on Paul's first journey of planting churches. But it was Mark's relationship with Peter that scholars believe most influenced the writing of Mark's gospel. 1 Peter 5:13 indicates that Mark was Peter's spiritual son. Some believe Mark was in Rome with Peter before his death, and Paul sent for Mark as he awaited his own execution in Rome, both speak to the bond of love these believers shared with one another. As Christians, God desires for us to experience this kind of community and discipleship with one another. Do you have community? Have you done the hard work of finding and fighting for community in your life? Is there someone in the church that you could call a spiritual son, daughter, father or mother? Pray for the courage and intentionality to find those folks or to more deeply share your life and service with those you are in community with. 

 

 Day 4: Mark 1:1 again. “The beginning of the Gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ (Messiah), the Son of God.” What is the good news/gospel that is being announced in this proclamation? Is the “beginning” here in reference to Jesus’ life, the beginning of his ministry and teaching, the beginning of the journey toward the cross and resurrection, the beginning of the ushering in of the Kingdom of God/Heaven, the beginning of God/Jesus reclaiming His reign on earth as it is in Heaven, the beginning of Jesus reconciling all things to Himself? Surely it is all of that and more! Remember last week’s message, are we like the two guys on the road that Jesus visits with, who were so certain in what Messiah would be and do that they missed Him? How might you understand and live the call of the “good news” Mark is sharing with us in a fuller way? Pray for God to show you more and more of His good news as you read Mark and we journey through it together as a church. 

      

Day 5: In day 1 you were encouraged to read through the book of Mark; how is it going? As a church, we will be going through the Gospel of Mark for the remainder of the year. What would it be like that if at the end of this calendar year, you had read through Mark multiple times as we walk through it together as a church? What might you discover about this “good news” that Mark is telling us about? How could your relationship with Jesus be changed or deepened? How might you know Jesus and be more like Him as we celebrate Christmas and bring in a new year? Do you think the you of this coming December would be grateful and potentially changed for you having done so, or bothered that you invested that much time? If you have fallen off in your reading, there is still time! 

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